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Reading and Writing Strategies

Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA)

Do you have students who finish reading a text and have no idea what it was about? The DRTA makes readers stop, think, and respond orally or in written responses as they move through text. It’s a fun way to make reading interactive while building students’ awareness of their understanding while reading.

The Directed Reading Thinking Activity (DRTA) is a strategy that guides students in asking questions about a text, making predictions, and then reading to confirm or refute their predictions. The DRTA process encourages students to be active and thoughtful readers, enhancing their understanding of a text before, during, and after reading.  

Why use DRTAs?

DRTAs may be used with an individual, a small group, or a whole class. This activity can be easily adapted for a variety of texts and across disciplines. Students’ critical thinking skills are strengthened as they consider the purpose of reading a particular text, predictions about the text, and adjustments to their understanding during and after reading. DRTAs can be implemented with stopping points that are “Stop and Chats” where students simply discuss their ideas, or “Stop and Jots” where students write down their ideas to share later. 

How do you create and use the strategy?

First, determine the text to be used and pre-select points for students to pause during the reading process. The reading should be broken into small  sections so your students have time to think about and process information. The amount of reading should be adjusted to fit the purpose and the difficulty of the text. Introduce the text, the purpose of the DRTA and gives examples of how to make predictions. Encourage students not to be intimidated by taking a risk with predictions and not to feel pressure to state only correct predictions.

D - DIRECT - Stimulate students’ thinking prior to reading by asking them to scan the title, chapter headings, illustrations, and other explanatory materials. Next, ask open-ended questions to direct students as they make predictions about the content or perspective of the text (e.g., “Given this title, what do you think the passage will be about?”). Students should be encouraged to justify their responses and not just state them.

R - READING - Ask students to read up to the first pre-selected stopping point in the tex then prompt your students with questions about specific information and ask them to evaluate their predictions and refine them if necessary. This process should be continued until students have read each section of the passage. If your stopping points and questions are listed on a page, students can work at their own pace to read, respond, and discuss with partners after you have walked them through the first stopping point.

T - THINKING - At the end of the reading, ask students to go back through the text and think about their predictions. Students should verify or modify the accuracy of their predictions by finding supporting statements in the text. You can deepen their thinking process by asking questions such as: What do you think about your predictions now? What did you find in the text to prove your predictions? What did you find in the text that caused you to modify your predictions?

    Tips for success

    1. Don’t kill the joy! How often should you interrupt readers to stop and think? It depends on the reader and the text but stopping too frequently can cause students to lose their overall understanding of the text and/or lose their engagement with the activity.
    2. Writing may be included as part of the DRTA but don’t let it overshadow students’ thinking and discussions.